Date: Feb. 8, 2014 Location: Jaragua do Sol, Brazil Broadcast: FOX Sports 2 UFC Middleweight Lyoto Machida (-265) Profile: Lyoto Machida is now 35-years old and three years removed from his short-lived light heavyweight title reign. Since losing to Mauricio Rua in 2010, Machida has gone 3-3 inside the Octagon, losing to Rampage Jackson in a controversial decision and getting put to sleep by Jon Jones and, most recently, losing to Phil Davis in another controversial unanimous decision in Brazil. He’s also looked spectacular in defeating Ryan Bader, and not so spectacular in defeating Dan Henderson, so he’s officially moved down to middleweight, a place where he has perhaps belonged for years. Machida was initially set to fight Tim Kennedy in his inaugural middleweight bout, but after Mike Bisping dropped out of his fight with Mark Munoz, Machida filled in against his training partner, and quickly knocked him out in the first round with a beautiful head kick. Machida is now a contender in the middleweight division with the impressive victor over Munoz, and draws former Strikeforce and Dream light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi in his next bout. UFC Middleweight Gegard Mousasi (+185) Profile: One of MMA’s best-kept secrets, Gegard Mousasi (34-3-2) is a well-known name for fans of the Japanese fight scene. Mousasi has been in the backstage locker room of just about every MMA organization outside of Bellator, including Pride, Dream, M-1and Bodog just to name a few, and he has dominated in most promotions. From 2006 to 2009, Mousasi amassed a 14-fight winning streak, beginning with a win over Hector Lombard in Pride and ending when King Mo took his Strikeforce light heavyweight title from him at the end of a five-round decision at Strikeforce: Nashville. Technically, he’s still the Dream light heavyweight champion and owns wins over Mark Hunt, Jacare Souza, Babalu, Ovince St Preux, and Mike Kyle in the final Strikeforce event. His only other blemish from recent battle comes from a draw with Keith Jardine two years ago, which many viewed as a poor decision after Mousasi left the former UFC contender a bloody mess. Mousasi transitioned to the UFC after the purchase of Strikeforce in a highly-anticipated bout against Alexander Gustafsson, but Gus had to pull out of the fight after a cut over his eye pulled him from the bout, so Mousasi dominated Ilir Latifi, a late replacement for Gustafsson. It was revealed that Mousasi injured his oft-troubled knee, keeping him out of action until he stepped up to fight Machida at his sometimes weight of 185 pounds. This will be Mousasi’s biggest test to date, and against the most decorated opponent he has ever had. Mousasi does have fantastic kickboxing skills, as well as a sambo background, so he’s definitely skilled enough for Machida, but Mousasi has a track record of not training very hard for fights and not taking them “seriously” enough. There’s little doubt he will underestimate Machida, though. Opening UFC Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Machida a -265 favorite (bet $265 to win $100) while Mousasi opened as a +185 underdog (bet $100 to win $185) at Several Bookmakers. This is an absolutely phenomenal matchup, and the winner will likely be in line for a title shot at 185 pounds. Basically, it’s a fight between two of the best strikers in the world, but two of the more passive fighters, as well. Although it was nice to see Machida get the KO over Munoz, generally he is involved in a lot of close fights that go to decision, where it’s often a coinflip on the judges’ cards. With Mousasi, he’s also been known to be tentative in some of his fights, such as his jabfest win over Latifi earlier this year. However, there’s no doubt these two have the talent and capabilities to finish fights, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens next February. Either way, it’s a close matchup on paper, and it ultimately may come down to Machida’s homefield advantage, as the fight takes place in his native Brazil. But we’ll see.